Who would you remember on this date?
Great Sumpango Kite Festival, artisans honor the memory of their loved ones through these giant works of art that are exhibited every November 1 in the community of Sumpango, Chimaltenango- Popularly called – Land of a Thousand Colors. (Photo from the newspaper El Metropolitano).
Guatemala, full of culture and traditions!
Hey friends, we are on one of the most representative dates in Guatemala, the Day of the Dead has arrived!
Dia de los Muertos is originally it is a Mexican tradition, but as you know, Guatemala and Mexico not only share a close geography but were also once the same empire, so it is very common to share traditions, flavors and culture. Sometimes we say that western Guatemala is more similar to southern Mexico than the rest of Guatemala, that is why every time you visit Xela you cannot leave without eating Xelapan and some good spicy tacos!
The celebrations of November 1 and 2 seek to honor the memory of the dead. According to Patriana McAnany, for the ancient Mesoamericans (Aztecs and Mayans) death did not have the moral connotations of the Christian religion, in which the ideas of hell and paradise serve to punish or reward. On the contrary, they believed that the destined paths of the souls of the dead were determined by the type of death they had had, and not by their behavior in life. For example, the Mexicas believed that those who had died from drowning or diseases such as scabies went to Tlaloc, a place of rest and abundance; Those who had died in combat or women in childbirth would go to Omeyocán to become beautiful birds; Mictlán was intended for those who died of natural deaths and children would go to Chichihuacuauhcol, a fertile land. And if you saw the COCO movie you will remember that the deceased were buried with a dog called path! Dog’s have been always great companions, haven’t they?
So, the way to any of these heavens, can be long and difficult, souls may need to feel loved, need food or memories. This is why offerings are so important. These offerings are the famous bread of the dead (Pan de Muerto), a delicious and exquisite ancestral recipe that can’t be missed in homes, cemeteries and restaurants. Many orange flowers – Cempasúchitl -, photos of loved ones, confetti, kites that remember the flight of the soul, all kinds of desserts such as pumpkin in sweet as an indigenous tradition, the visit of the souls on November 1 in the hundreds of cemeteries across the country!
What about Fiambre? is the most delicious dish ever, a mixture of Hispanic vegetables and Iberian hams that fuse the two most important cultures in Guatemala, my mom shines every year with this family recipe that is not missing in any Guatemalan home on the 1st. November!
Thus the day of the dead or All Saints’ Day (as it was later called after the arrival of the Spanish) is a holiday to remember the people who are no longer physically with us; it is celebrated in other Latin American countries too! These days altars with photographs of loved ones and their favorite foods on the table are common. Hundreds of families are already visiting the cemetery with flowers and food, there is a lot of partying around, children, young people and adults playing, waiting for love and affection to reach their loved ones until the afterlife. This connection represents the spirit of the festival, which is lived with music, marimba, mariachis and corn liquors made by ancestral grandparents. Throughout the holiday there is the hope of being reunited with those we love!
If you are in Xela or Guatemala on these dates, don’t forget to share it with a family who will teach you the beauty of this tradition where you get emotional but also eat delicious food loving family and friends! We remember that the cemetery was closed from 2020 until last year and today people are eager to visit their loved ones again. Don´t miss to visit, share and observe this celebration while Guatemala!
Great Places you can Visit in Xela: Cementerio General zona 1, Parque Central zona 1, Mercado la Terminal paseo Las Flores. In Chimaltenango visit Festival de Sumpango: https://www.festivaldesumpango.com/